Restaurant Review: Wabora
IF YOU TAKE a successful Japanese fusion restaurant from Muskoka and drop it in the funky new Thompson Toronto boutique hotel in Toronto, what happens?
I’m at Wabora about to find out. We enter through the hotel lobby where upbeat music is playing and a noticeably young and attractive female staff is at the desk.
(At least they’re not wearing headsets like they do in some hotels in New York.)
We are handed a menu, which reminds me I still need to work on my biceps. It’s massive! Every page features different preparation methods, rice, sushi, charcoal grill — and 59 different rolls.
The very friendly young waiter approaches, but I am nowhere near having a clue what to choose.
Wabora does sushi well with impeccable quality and freshness, but nothing out of this world. The deliciously mild and succulent sashimi trio of tuna, white tuna and unagi are sliced thick rounds with old school radish and carrot flowers.
Gyoza dumplings come in lovely brown flower-shaped bowls atop bean threads gently kissed by the fryer — crisp, light and well paired with the dipping sauce.
The rolls I mentioned? Turns out the “spicy cottage” rendition adds a fresh twist to the mind-boggling array of rolls ($14.95).
Instead of traditional seaweed, a filling of lettuce, cucumber, avocado, spicy tuna and shrimp are snuggled inside rice paper taken up a notch with a touch of a sweet mango concoction.
It’s beautifully served with a little pearl of hot sauce on each slice. The absence of rice almost makes it less filling.
Their most popular appetizer, the tuna tower, stands about five inches tall garnished with various coloured flying fish roes and splashes of wasabi cream.
It goes for $20, and it’s loaded with crab, avocado and a base of sushi rice, topped with a honkin’ handful of tuna tartar. Of course, to eat it one must mash away, and it loses its wow factor in a hurry.
Things begin to fall apart when it comes to cooked offerings from the traditional Japanese Robata grill (one of the only of its kind in the city).We go for the spicy pork and black cod.
The pork consists of a round plate of very saucey almost stirfried pork slices with tiny florets of broccoli and cauliflower. The meat is chewy and swimming in sauce that manages to be both too hot and too sweet. For $26? I don’t think so.
For $3 more, the black cod marinated in just enough sweet miso to balance the creamy cod is much better. The king oyster mushroom and vegetable skewer side thrills.
The decor certainly fits the Thompson Toronto surroundings — plenty of limestone, gorgeous art on the walls to match the pretty people. And the food is stylish and creative but in some cases lacks substance.
555 Wellington St.W., 416-777-9901, $90 Dinner for two